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E06.1 Faculty Honorary Titles

Scope:  Applies to full-time faculty as defined in the sections below.

  1. Policy Statement

    The honorary titles of emeritus, distinguished, and endowed professorship are conferred based on criteria described in this policy.

  2. Emeritus Faculty

    Emeritus is an honorary title designating a retired full-time faculty member as having demonstrated notable contributions during their professional career at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).  Tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty are eligible for this honorary title.  Details regarding retirement eligibility, status, etc. are as defined by the Department of Human Resources.

    1. Candidacy Criteria

Emeritus is an honorary title designating a retired full-time faculty member as having demonstrated a record of contributions and achievements during their professional career at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).  The title is determined by the faculty rank at the time of retirement. The term “Emeritus” will follow the rank of the faculty member upon retirement, such as Professor Emeritus or Lecturer Emeritus.

  1. Privileges

In addition to retirement benefits, the privileges associated with having been granted the honorary title of Emeritus are as follows:

  • Lifetime listing indicating the honorary title of Emeritus in university catalogs and directories.

  • Participation in university public ceremonies.

  • With permission of the department head, authorization to serve on or chair a thesis and dissertation committee or engage in other research or educational activities within the university.

  • Based on availability and the recommendations of the department head and the dean and with the concurrence of the provost, use of office and/or lab space, equipment, and other campus facilities to support scholarly work and/or educational activities.

  1. Procedure

The process of awarding Emeritus status may be initiated by the active or retired faculty member, the faculty member’s supervisor, or a faculty colleague on the faculty member's behalf by sending a nomination to the department head of the unit where retirement occurs/occurred. Documentation shall include a letter of nomination, a brief synopsis of contributions and achievements as a faculty member at RIT, and may include an optional letter of support from one colleague.  The department head shall forward a recommendation for or against granting of the honorary title along with the originally submitted materials to the dean. The dean shall forward a recommendation along with all previous documentation and the department head’s recommendation to the provost for final decision.  A written notification of the decision shall be sent to the candidate.

Under unusual circumstances, the provost, in consultation with the chair of Academic Senate, can revoke the Emeritus honorary title.

  1. Distinguished Professor

    The designation of a faculty member as a Distinguished Professor at RIT constitutes the highest title that the university can accord a member of the professoriate. 

    1. Candidacy Criteria

Distinguished Professors shall be Professors holding tenure (or granted tenure under expedited review, see Section III.E.) and have exhibited a record of singular excellence sustained over the course of their careers, as demonstrated by extraordinary scholarly contributions manifested in leading journal publications, books, or creative accomplishments; and at least one of the following:

  • Preeminent teaching ability that creates significant and lasting contributions to the practice of teaching that go beyond the university; or, 

  • Exemplary service that impacts one’s professional field or the lives of others in extraordinary ways.

  1. Procedure

Nomination for the Distinguished Professor title is initiated by the nominee’s dean or by an RIT Professor.  Self-nominations are disallowed. The nominator assembles the nomination packet.  The packet shall include the following materials:

  • a letter of nomination;

  • the candidate’s Curriculum Vitae;

  • two internal letters of support from faculty holding the rank of Professor; and

  • three external letters of support from peers eminent in the nominee's field(s) of study.

All letters of nomination or support shall include evidence of the nominee’s accomplishments with respect to the criteria outlined above. All letters shall remain confidential and shall not be made accessible to the nominee.  Materials shall be forwarded to the dean or completed by the dean (if the dean is the nominator) by October 1.

  1. College Distinguished Professor Award Committee

    Each college shall form a College Distinguished Professor Committee (hereafter referred to as the College Committee) comprised of three (3) Professors who shall annually review nominations, if any, and forward to the dean up to one (1) recommendation for Distinguished Professor from the pool of nominees by November 1.  Note that a College Committee may choose to not submit a candidate for consideration of this title. The dean shall review the College Committee recommendation and forward it to the provost with the dean’s recommendation by December 1.  The provost shall forward the nominations and all supporting materials to the University Distinguished Professor Committee (Section III.D.) by December 15.

  2. University Distinguished Professor Committee

    1. Composition: The provost maintains the University Distinguished Professor Committee (hereafter referred to as the University Committee) and convenes the University Committee as needed.  The University Committee shall include a Professor elected from each college during their annual elections.  University Committee members serve staggered three-year terms. Each year, the University Committee shall elect the chair from among its members.  Vacancies in the membership of this committee shall be filled according to the procedures of the constituent element in which vacancies occurs.

    2. Responsibility: The University Committee shall review each nominee based on the criteria outlined in this policy; the nomination materials; and all internal and external letters of support. Incomplete nomination packets shall not be considered.

    3. Voting: A two-thirds majority vote of the University Committee is needed for an overall recommendation for the title of Distinguished Professor. There shall be no abstentions or avoidances of voting by absence.

    4. Recommendations:  The University Committee shall deliver to the provost the resulting University Committee vote for each nominee by January 15, along with supporting rationale.  The provost shall make the final decision and may consult with the University Committee, if the provost deems it appropriate.  The provost shall inform the nominee(s) of the final decision by March 1.

  3. Terms for Distinguished Professors

    The designation of Distinguished Professor is a title with a renewable five-year term. The provost shall notify Distinguished Professors by September 1 of the fifth year of the current term that continuation will be evaluated, and request a written self-evaluation. The Distinguished Professor seeking renewal shall submit a self-evaluation to the provost by November 1 of the fifth year of the current term.  The self-evaluation shall address how the Distinguished Professor has sustained a level of accomplishment and impact consistent with the criteria above.  After reviewing the self-evaluation of the Distinguished Professor, the provost, in consultation with the chair of the University Distinguished Professor Committee and the dean of the Distinguished Professor’s home college, may choose not to renew the title of Distinguished Professor.  Failure to submit a self-evaluation by November 1 shall result in non-renewal.

  4. Expedited Review

    In exceptional circumstances, as part of the faculty hiring process, the request for expedited review for the designation of the title of Distinguished Professor may be initiated in parallel with the expedited tenure review process (E05.0 4.b.). If supported by the dean of the college where the primary appointment would reside, and by the provost or president, the candidate shall be evaluated by the College Committee in the college where the primary appointment would reside and by the University Committee on the accelerated time frame described below. Evaluation shall be based on a letter of nomination (from the chair of the search committee, the chair of the department seeking to hire the candidate, or the dean of the college seeking to hire the candidate), a copy of the materials provided to the tenure-review committee for their expedited review, and the criteria described in Section III.A.

    The provost or president convenes the University Committee, provides it with the candidate’s materials, and charges it with reviewing the candidate under the expedited schedule below (III.F.2).  No later than two (2) business days after the University Committee is convened, the dean shall convene the College Committee, provide it with the candidate’s materials, and charge it with reviewing the candidate under the expedited schedule below (III.F.1).

    During the evaluation process, committee members may communicate and vote electronically or in person/physically. If one or more members of the College or University Committees are not available during this accelerated time frame, each such member shall be substituted by an alternate elected by the faculty of that member’s home college.

    1. Within five (5) business days of the College Committee charge, each College Committee member shall submit a written recommendation (paper or electronic) to the dean. The letter shall include a clear recommendation for or against expedited designation of the Distinguished Professor title at hire, accompanied by a supporting explanation. The dean shall compile the written recommendations and forward them with a tally of the recommendations for and against the designation to the University Committee by the end of the fifth business day.

    2. Within ten (10) business days of the University Committee charge, the University Committee shall evaluate the candidate and provide the provost or president with a recommendation for the candidate, along with the University Committee vote and the signatures (physical or electronic) of all University Committee members. Recommendation for approval for expedited designation as Distinguished Professor by the University Committee shall require a minimum 2/3 majority in favor as determined by secret ballot. The committee may alternatively make a recommendation for an appropriate expedited period of review for designation upon hire.

  5. Revocation of the Title

    Under unusual circumstances, the provost, in consultation with the Distinguished Professor Committee and the dean of the Distinguished Professor’s home college, may revoke the honorary Distinguished Professor title before the end of the five-year term.


  1. Endowed Chair

Endowed positions are conferred for a variety of reasons and in accordance with the funding parameters. Endowed chairs are appointed by the provost.

Each endowed chair position shall have published written guidelines for appointment of a faculty member that stipulate at a minimum: term length (including renewability) and review criteria for reappointment if appropriate.

Responsible Office:  Academic Senate and the Office of the Provost. Inquiries can be directed to:

Academic Senate:
2106 Eastman Hall

Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs:
2100 Eastman Hall

Effective Date: 24 August 2015

Policy History
Approved May 21, 2015
Revised October 19, 2017, Section III


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